James McFarlane is a third-generation farmer in Clovis, CA. James attended college at Stanford and worked as an engineer for several years. He returned to his family farm in 1991 and worked alongside his father, William, known as Bill.
His father, Bill, was a co-founder of the Association. Prior to the Association’s creation in 1963, James’ grandfather, Frank, leased his first property in 1920. In 1948, Frank and Bill became partners and originally farmed row crops until planting almonds in the 1950’s.
“Growing up, I would attend the Association meetings with my father and all I wanted to do was go home. As I became older, and once I served the Board of Director’s, I realized how important those meetings were because there was business to be done.”
James served the Association’s Board of Directors from 2001 to 2022. He said serving the board was a valuable experience. “I learned a lot about farming from being around the board. It was an experience that you get more out of than you put in.”
Since the McFarlane family have been members of the Association from the beginning, he has seen and contributed to many changes. James said the volume of member’s acreage has increased drastically from when he first served the board until now. He was also serving the board during the change in management in 2005 and the construction of Kerman Plant 3 in 2006. One of the last changes James contributed to while on the board was the Association’s decision to change the hulling fee from a meat equivalent to now a delivered basis.
James expressed the importance of the Association not only for himself but for all members. “This is a shared Association. We are all in business together and we understand what we all have in common, but also respect the differences each member has.”
Aside from the Association, he discussed technological changes within the almond industry, especially irrigation. Additionally, he explained the importance of having a beneficial fertilizer and pollination program, but stressed that without an effective irrigation system, the other programs aren’t as valuable.
When discussing the future of the almond industry, James said the biggest challenges for farmers revolves around water. “Farmers can only plant what they have water for. Everyone is chasing after water especially farmers with permanent crops.” He also discussed the pros and cons of SGMA and how it will affect farmers.
James is appreciative of his family’s history in farming and the Association. “My dad set the table for my sisters and I growing up. Now it’s my turn to set the table up for my daughters.”
The Association truly appreciates his 21 years of service, dedication, and effort to the Board of Directors.